"I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Some Quick Thoughts on Writing Before I Forget Them


I’m reading Thomas Moore’s little book, Meditations. One of those gems that delivers a bolt of enlightenment on every page. Like Anne Lamott if she were a monk.  

Small, intense books pave my path to sagehood. They would be my path to sainthood if I paid attention to all the lessons they teach. Instead, I’m cursed with a weakness that lets the world tear away my best intentions.  

That’s it, in a nutshell.

My obstacle to perfection is that I’m two women. (I explore this in my memoir, Ordinary Aphrodite.)  The brainy me tends to over-think issues.  I read deep books and feel the author’s ideas fill my head. But that’s where everything stays. The other me is flighty. I ponder the book for a day or two and then it’s back to watching Nashville or Game of Thrones on TV with a bowl of popcorn in my lap. I’m a wannabe intellectual with an average IQ.

In a nutshell.

My writing group is discussing finding our Writer’s Voice, that illusive combination of phrasing and structure, personality and thinking that makes each writer’s work unique. Some writing gurus claim it comes after we’ve written 1,000,000 words. (I put this in numerals so it will look like a big number. Actually, I think I wrote that many words reworking my first novel.)

I envy writers who find their writer’s voice, their genre and their place in the commercial market. They write a mystery, sell it to New York and start another before the royalty check clears. I suspect they were born knowing who they are and are satisfied with that person. All the while I wander the earth searching for the true me.

This is what I know about my writer’s voice. My writing involves the heart. That’s why I love memoir. When I write about “Me,” the name I give the universal woman who occupies my brain, I let my heart tackle the hard stuff. My ego gets to sit on the fence and watch me share my thoughts with the world in a self-effacing manner that allows women to laugh at themselves as well. Afterwards I feel useful. I feel like I’ve taken a few steps along my path of enlightenment and brought along a few sisters to share the trek.

There is a downside to being both giddy and wise. It’s hard to define what I do. I write women’s fiction. Inspirational fiction that women will read and share with their husbands and boyfriends. Contemporary stories that resonate with modern readers. But, wait. I also write historical fiction set in the American West. And Mexico. I write short stories of the heart. I write for religious magazines. I wrote a dark story about mental illness. What each of them has in common is my writer’s voice, the way I define my path.  

Writing is a way of exploring the big questions. I pick up knowledge along the way, but I still have more questions than answers. I’m finding my spiritual path in a messy world. What’s to be done? I guess I’ll just keep writing. Reading and listening. Take quiet walks in the woods. Find inspiration in faces of strangers and friends. Work on being a better friend. Pray and ask for prayer from others.

Maybe that’s enough.

Any thoughts you’d like to share on your own journey?